Posted on Aug 23, 2020 by Imaginal Marketing
You’ve heard of 5-star Yelp reviews attracting new clients. But a 1-star review? A few years ago, a client wrote a horrible Yelp review for Luxe Salon and Day Spa in Ventura, CA. At first, Luxe owner Shirley Bruce wasn’t even going to respond.
But when she mentioned it to Lauren Bakos, her marketing consultant at IM, Lauren helped her answer the review on Yelp. In the following weeks, four new clients came through Luxe’s door, all saying the same thing: “I saw the way you handled that person on Yelp, and I respect that.”
Since then, Shirley has learned how to manage Luxe’s reputation on Yelp—including dealing with the occasional unhappy Yelper. “I didn’t use to respond to them because I didn’t know how,” she says.
“You want to respond negatively to a review because it makes you upset, but now I know how to respond in a positive way.”
Most salon owners really don’t like Yelp. If you’re one of them—first, take a deep breath. Aaaaand exhale. Second: know that we at IM used to feel the same about Yelp. Really. But when we learned how salons can make Yelp work for them—generating more calls, website visits and people walking through their doors—we did a 180.
“We get a ton of new clients from Yelp,” says Claire Bengur, owner of Atlas Salon in Washington, D.C., who has advertised on Yelp since June 2019. “Most of them tell us our good reviews are why they decided to give us a try.”
After Atlas started advertising, they got an 80% increase in Yelp Customer Leads, including a 44% jump in mobile calls. “We have a few different marketing tools we use to get new clients,” Claire says, “but as more and more people were telling us they came to us from Yelp, we focused our advertising there.”
With that said … your business’ Yelp listing as it stands now may not be something you want to advertise. If that’s the case, know you can reverse the negatives, and even—as Shirley did—turn lemons into lemonade.
Read on to learn business owners’ most common complaints with Yelp, and how to flip them.
If your business’ overall Yelp rating is below 4 stars, and doesn’t reflect the in-person experience at your salon, you can change that.
Also remember there might be some truth to a negative review,” says Claire. “It may reveal problems in the salon that you, as the owner, would want to fix.”
It’s frustrating when someone writes a glowing review and it’s filtered—hidden, viewable only to those who go looking for it, not counting toward your business’ star rating.
Yelp will filter reviews that appear to be inauthentic. Most often when a review is filtered, it’s because the person who posted it is not a regular Yelper. It appears they created their profile just to write one great review. That mimics the behavior of someone close to the business trying to give it a boost—not an authentic customer experience. Even if a real guest created a profile to leave you kind words, Yelp’s automated filter doesn’t know that.
When you ask guests to review your salon (whether in person or via email) give them the opportunity to choose their platform—Yelp, Google or Facebook. Yelpers will go to Yelp, and as for the others—well, it’s always a win to get five stars on any of the Big Three.
“I never have to ask for reviews, but people leave them anyway,” says Claire. “If people find us on Yelp, they are likely to review us on Yelp. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Shirley says, “We’ve learned over the years how to get our ratings up. Asking people who are happy with their hair to put reviews up for us—and include photos with it—has really helped our Yelp rating.”
Google is important—but Yelp is the world’s leading review site. Yelp is the resource Siri turns to when Apple users ask questions like, “Siri, what’s the best hair salon near me?” So, people may be using Yelp without even knowing it! Therefore: don’t ignore Yelp.
If poor reviews pile up and your star rating drops, it could hit your business where it hurts most: your profit margin. Studies show a 1-star change in your Yelp rating (negative or positive) can trigger a corresponding rise or fall in your revenue between 5-9%.
You can control your star rating on Yelp. Besides taking the steps above to generate more positive reviews, do these two things:
“As a salon owner, you want people to be happy,” Shirley says. “If a client is sincerely upset and they don’t feel they got value for their money, you have to revisit it.” With one unhappy Yelper, Shirley offered a new service to address her complaints. “She came back and wrote us a positive follow-up review, and she is still our guest today.”
Getting a scathing review is worse when you know it’s unfair. But consumers are savvy about that. They know if a business has mostly 4- and 5-star reviews, but a few 1-star rants, those outliers don’t reflect the typical salon experience.
As hard as it might be (and it is hard), address negative reviews in a manner that is gracious, non-defensive, and authentic.
Usually, people browsing Yelp have a favorable opinion of an owner who makes a classy response to a poor review. So—again, as hard as it may be:
“Honestly, every business has 1-star reviews, and that’s not always a bad thing,” Claire said. “We have one 1-star review and it’s someone complaining about our cancellation policy. That’s good! That tells everyone we take cancellations seriously.”
What it takes to win on Yelp are things any business owner can do. But if you want help with Yelp—claiming listings, automated emails, responding to reviews, advertising, whatever else—we’ve got you. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re very Yelpful.